bay or flats boats

Flats are vast, shallow coastal bay areas where anglers seek catches such as redfish, tarpon, sea trout, permit and bonefish. Flats boats are made with those settings and species in mind. They run and rest in waters two feet deep or less. On an elevated “poling platform” over the outboard motor, one can stand and move the boat from spot to spot, pushing with a long pole while watching for fish. Casting is mainly done from an open platform at the bow.

Bay boats are similar but have higher sides and slightly deeper hulls, requiring a few inches more of water depth but providing smoother rides in often-choppy coastal waters. Economical, some can run well with smaller outboards than a center-console offshore boat would require, but many bay boats in the 23- to 25-foot class are now made to let boaters venture offshore on calmer days. They have one to three large livewells used more for live bait than the catch.

A flats or bay boat might have a ‘jack plate’ to raise and lower the engine vertically to negotiate shallow water.

Quick Stats

  • freshwater fishing
  • saltwater fishing
  • 5 Max
  • 17 - 25 ft
  • outboard engine
  • trailerable